this link has good explanation of how it is applied and some info about its characteristics
some of these homes are 10-20 years old and have had no problems with issues like mold behind the finish or deterioration from water intrusion--most of the problems come if the foundation does not lift the bottom of the stucco above the splash lne or standing water line so that water "wicks" its way into the acoustic---but it can be difficult to tell if newer homes constructed in this manner will have problems...and any moisture that has been trapped between the exterior and the interior will ultimately cause framing rot since it cannot evaporate...
years ago the mfg of the stucco material had problems with what it produced that led to major problems with mold/water damage--there were MANY of these homes on the market that came under the relocation process--
at that time companies were buying homes from their tranferred employees if they had difficulty selling them--many of these homes had BIG bills dues to damage from the stucco exteriors--around here the companies STOPPED buying any stucco homes--this is one reason why they became sort of a drag on the market---now in California and other areas there was perhaps not the failure rate problem like in TX
Even real stucco homes take a lot of care
Hardie Plank siding comes in a stucco finish--but even that is not fool or maintenance proof...
most "stucco" homes are harder to sell--stay on the market longer--and probably have more price reduction than a brick counterpart--
while I like the look of them, I have pretty much decided we won't ever buy one--unless it was the real deal...
My best, Josh